Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do the Leafs really, really need a "number one" centre?

Photo cred: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Apparently the Toronto Maple Leafs are in desperate need of a "humongous big number one" centre - per every single person that gets paid a good amount of money to talk about them. I'm going to go ahead a disagree with that. While it is true that the Leafs need to get stronger up front, as they get pushed around like a bunch of Timbits when they play a strong team, i.e the Boston Bruins. Getting bigger and tougher shouldn't be the most pressing need in the organization, it should be preventing goals against.

The Leafs are 26th in the league in GA/G at 3.07 and 6th in the league in GF/G at 3.02. Now it is true that getting bigger could reduce our  goals against, but not in the #1 centre hole. Think about the defense that the Leafs have: Dion Phaneuf, JM Liles, Carl Gunnarsson, Cody Franson, Luke Schenn, Jake Gardiner, Mike Komisarek, and Keith Aulie.

Liles, Gunnarsson and Gardiner are all under 200 pounds, not to mention the bigger guys we have: Schenn, Aulie, Komisarek and Franson all have their own defensive shortcomings (some more-so then others). That is 7 of our 8 defensemen that have played with the big club so far this year that have a serious shortcoming, that's just asking to be pushed around by a big strong cycling team. Something Burke needs to look at before the trade deadline is getting bigger and better defensively, easier said then done though.

The Leafs have been very good offensively this year, a big glove tap to Lupul and Kessel for that, but not too much production is coming from the third and fourth line. Production from the 'bottom six' is something that Leafs fans and management alike were expecting this year, but maybe they sacrificed a little too much defense in those positions while pushing for a more offensive club.

In a perfect, injury free world the third line would consist of Bozak, Lombardi and Armstrong, this could be an alright defensive line that could also put the puck in the net, but it is not a big strong line by any stretch of the imagination. I would think that line would get run over against big and tough competition, not something you want to see from your best defensive line.

Instead of going into the trade deadline looking to shoot for the moon, trade all the assets Burke has acquired since arriving here and getting a 90 point 'humongous big' centre, Burke should look at getting bigger in the back end and maybe add one or two, big defensive forwards who can stop a cycle and push the puck in the right direction to play on the third line.

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    1. Thanks for pointing that article out. The writer raises a lot of the same points that I have. To be clear, I did not see that article before writing this as I stay away from websites like Bleacher Report.

    2. Funny enough, this was written then same day.